Lenten Practices

Why observe Lent?

As a church, we observe the historical Christian Calendar as one way to help us become more like Jesus by walking through the seasons of His Gospel story on an annual basis.

Depending on your background, the season of Lent can stir up memories or images that can be unhelpful or helpful to engaging meaningfully today. Our hope is that, regardless of background or familiarity, each of us can use this season as a way of drawing nearer to Jesus.

Historically, Lent is the 40-day season beginning with Ash Wednesday and continuing through Holy Week. It has historically been viewed as a season of preparation and repentance, as we ready our hearts for the celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus on Easter weekend.

How can we observe it personally?

For centuries, the Christian Church has uniquely marked the season of Lent by engaging in the three particular practices found in Matthew 6:1-18: prayer, fasting and generosity. Each of these habits are important throughout the year, but we’re inviting our Park family to consider choosing a deliberate rhythm for all three in this season. A word on each below:

Prayer

Prayer is vital to every Christian’s relationship with God, because it is the means by which we commune and communicate with Him. While we’re called to “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17), sometimes it is helpful to commit to a certain style of prayer in a certain season to help push us out of our ruts and toward becoming more Christlike. We invite you to choose one way you might pray differently in the coming weeks: a daily prayer walk, a morning routine of stillness before God, praying The Lord’s Prayer, a brief family prayer ritual after dinner, etc.

Fasting

Fasting is the discipline of abstaining from a good gift of God for a specific period of time in order to call ourselves to hunger and thirst for God – the Giver of all good gifts – more than the gifts themselves. Often people choose to fast from food on certain days, but you may choose to abstain from something like media, social media, alcohol, or certain types of food. Families with kids might choose to skip dessert together, or pick one day to go without a favorite toy or TV show. Depending on your situation, fasting might open up space in your schedule for prayer, and might even open up room in your budget for generosity!

Generosity

Generosity is also a practice of recognizing that all gifts are from God, and because He has been abundant with us, we are empowered to be abundant with others. There are a number of ways to be generous: financially, you may choose to give more funds to Park Church, a missionary, or any other organization doing good work for the flourishing of humanity. You also may commit to buy someone a coffee or a meal once a week, or host dinner in your home. There are also ways to be generous with your time, your possessions, or even with encouraging words this season! Children may choose generosity with sharing a toy or in participating with the family giving away finances in some way. Remember that the point isn’t a specific dollar amount, but is about treasuring Christ and letting Him shape our view of possessions and resources.

How can we observe it corporately?

In addition to the personal ways of engaging with Lent, we have the following opportunities for you to engage with during the Lenten season:

Ash Wednesday

This Wednesday, March 2 • 6:30am & 6:30pm

Ash Wednesday inaugurates the season of Lent through singing, prayer, and the symbolic imposition of ashes with a spoken, Biblical reminder: “From dust you came, to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:19). This is a day that helps remind us of the sobering reality that all of us will die and yet in Christ, death does not have the final word. No childcare will be provided at these services, but children are welcome to receive the imposition of ashes.

Prayer & Fasting Wednesdays

Wednesdays, March 9–April 13 • 12–1pm

We will be gathering every Wednesday during Lent at the Park Church Building to pray. Many are also fasting from food on Wednesdays (see "fasting" section above), but you’re welcome to join us regardless. Over the years, it’s been encouraging to see so many make this a priority as part of our desire to be a people of prayer!

Good Friday

Friday, April 15 • 5:30 & 7pm

We’ll allow the Scriptures to take us to the scene of our Lord’s betrayal, arrest, trial, crucifixion and burial, setting us up for a deep celebration of Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday.

Resources

To help you engage in this season, we have a few resources for you at the bookshelves in the gallery. One of these books is N. T. Wright’s Lent for Everyone: Matthew. This book leads you through the whole book of Matthew with some simple devotional thoughts and prayers. Other options include Paul Tripp’s “Journey To The Cross” and John Piper’s classic book on fasting, “Hunger For God.” Each book is available for $10. You can also find a collection of songs, artwork, and prayers from Park Church and others focused around the Lenten season at The Christian Year.